Concealing One's Weaknesses
Self-deception aimed to avoid action or inventing pretexts for the inability to perform certain tasks due to a personal weakness have a psychic cause. One who does not manifest stability and perseverance in any matter leaves everything that he takes up incomplete or avoids looking the problems of life in the face. He continually invents excuses to conceal his spiritual inadequacy and deceives himself.
'Ali, may peace be upon him, said:
When faced with intense hardship, at times a man may be led to lie to himself (and thus deceive himself in order to escape responsibility). 20
Today, this matter has been scientifically proved. According to psychologists:
When someone lacks the capacity to do a job, quits it and takes up another job, he justifies it by saying, "I think I can serve my country and a country men better in this profession." The truth is something else. He changed his profession since he did not have the capacity for that job. Men invent reasons to justify their actions and try to make them appear proper and correct.
Untrue justification, like any other defensive action, is either a sign of failure or an indication that one has not learnt the way to confront problems. Persons with obvious shortcomings take recourse in unrealistic reasoning. That which they must do is to recognise their defects and try to remove them. When we face a defeat, our unconscious preserves the feeling of frustration and despair and prompts us to engage in unrealistic reasoning. I he better thing to do is to admit one's despair and deprivation and try to strengthen oneself for overcoming problems. We should forget the defeat which was a result of lack of sufficient effort and remember to use our experience of defeat for future occasions.
Escapism and fleeing difficulties and problems is a wrong remedy. This trick works only for a short time, and the pain, sickness and weakness soon return. While reacting in regard to a problem, one must ask oneself the question: "Am I deceiving myself and others? Am I trying to justify myself? What should I do in order to solve my problem by being honest to myself?" Its is of course not sufficient to give expression to the problem. Rather one should take effective steps and give one's time for its solution. One should refrain from putting it off with excuses. Unrealistic justification is undesirable for it is an unconscious effort at deceiving oneself and others. One must face the reality distinguish the true and the false and try to solve the difficulty.
One should not allow oneself to be overcome by despair and the shattering loss of hope in the most critical and difficult circumstances. 'Ali the Commander of the Faithful may peace be upon him advises that one should not give up hope and try to escape problems in the most difficult and complex of situations. He says:
The hope of relief comes at the peak of adversely (that is one should be optimistic and hopeful even at the peak of hardship and adversity) and relief comes when the noose of adversely has reached its tightest point. 22
Fortitude in the face of hardship is one of the things taught by the God-sent prophets for the training of the human spirit. Once one of the prophets of God was told that an old woman was at death's door due to a tragedy that had befallen her. Her only son who was a worthy and gifted man had died. The prophet was told that it behoved a prophet to attempt to console her with kind words and try to pacify her grief by exhorting her. The prophet went to see her. Entering her house he looked around and saw a number of pigeons who had made their nest in a corner of the house. "Have these pigeons hatched any chickens in your house?" he asked her. "Yes they have" she replied. "Do all of them grow up to become old?" he asked her. She replied "Sometimes I kill some of them and make use of their meat." "Do you do that in front of their mother?" he asked. "Yes" she replied. The prophet said "Then do they stop being friendly towards you and desert you?" "Never" she answered.
Thereat the prophet said to her "O woman! Be careful lest you should prove to be lesser than these pigeons in your attitude towards God and His will. You kill their young ones in front of their eyes yet they don't abandon your house and do not leave you although what you do is only of benefit for yourself and there is no benefit in it for them. But when God took away your son his death was for his and your benefit."
On hearing these words there was a sudden change in the old woman and a revolution occurred within her spirit. She fell in prostration before God and began pleading for pardon. The burden of grief and sorrow was at once lifted from her heart.
What power except the power of faith can help heal a wounded and bereaved heart with a few words and give it undesirable comfort?
20. Ghurar al Hikam, p. 537
21. Marguerite Malm and Herbert Soresnon, Psychology for Living, pp. 191
22. Nahj al Balaghah, p. 351 and 536
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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